Environmental assessment for electrification complete

Metrolinx has released the environmental assessment for the proposed electrification of the UP Express. You can comment on the plans for the next 30 days.

Highlights:

  • Despite assurances that the diesel trains are low-emission, “air quality within the UP Express corridor will improve” when they are converted to electrical, even accounting for extra the power generation.
    • But the difference might be small. Diesel trains will consume about 140 L of fuel passing through Weston each day.
  • It doesn’t look like the electrification will result in any additional expropriations in Weston.
  • There are plans for a new station in Mount Dennis.
  • Construction will, of course, be irritating, and will last two to three years
  • The Humber River bridge is culturally significant for its history, engineering, and importance to the community.
  • Electric trains will be no noisier than diesel trains. They might be quieter.

Mike Sullivan’s complaint dismissed

The Canadian Transportation Agency has rejected Mike Sullivan’s complaint about noise and vibrations caused by construction of the UP Express.

Sullivan filed the complaint on behalf of residents last fall saying that the construction was having an adverse effect in Weston. If they CTA had sided with Sullivan, they would have forbidden Metrolinx from working noisily after 7 in the evening.

But the CTA did not side with him. They first dismissed part of his complaint, saying that dirt and dust are outside their purview. They then considered whether Metrolinx was causing “only such noise and vibration as is reasonable”.

The CTA agreed that noise and vibration causes “substantial interference”, but they said that this was reasonable and that Metrolinx has been trying to mitigate the issues. They also said that Metrolinx is obliged to do the work in time for the Pan Am games. They dismissed the complaint.

 

Weston Tunnel is progressing

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Weston tunnel continues to progress and is remarkably deep as the size of the workers in the photo shows. This view is looking north, just west of King. A layer of trademark Weston shale can be seen on the sides and floor of the tunnel.

Looking further down, the finished floor on which the rail bed will be constructed is visible.

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Looking east down the tunnel. King Street is closed at this point.

Metrolinx staff at the community office (44 King Street) conduct regular walking tours. The next one is scheduled on September 19th at 5pm, although groups can arrange tours at other times and dates by calling Rawle or Loretta at 416-241-2300. The starting locatioon at 44 King is easy to miss – it’s the trailer next to the tracks on the south side of King.

King is expected to be put back together again partially (for south-west traffic) at the end of September and completely later on in the fall. More details here.

Murray stonewalls on mud and noise.

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April 13th: a worker scrapes  mud off the roadway at a construction exit on Church Street.

One has to wonder if it’s arrogance, inexperience or plain old bloody-mindedness but Ontario Transportation Minister Glen Murray has decided that photo-ops are a much better way of advancing his career than dealing with Westonians’ outrage over mud traffic and noise generated by the Weston Tunnel construction. Back in January, two days before the recent Ontario Liberal leadership convention Mr Murray shrewdly traded his wafer-thin chances of becoming Premier to front-runner Kathleen Wynne in exchange for a cabinet position.

On Thursday, responding to residents’ concerns about Weston Tunnel noise, work schedules and mud tracked through the neighbourhood, MP Mike Sullivan requested to speak to the Minister by phone within 48 hours. Apparently Minister Murray is far too busy to come to the phone but through an assistant, generously promised to make contact if “the Minister’s schedule opens up for a call in the near future”. Sullivan placed a request to meet with Murray last February but has heard nothing to date. Even letters from fellow Liberal, MPP Laura Albanese and Toronto Councillor Frances Nunziata can’t get the Minister down from his high horse.  We’ve all heard that power corrupts. However, Mr. Murray is merely Transportation Minister in a lame duck government that by tradition (with an unelected Premier) will have to go to the polls soon. Despite the probability that he’s about to join a number of his colleagues on the unemployment lines the Minister seems to think he has bigger fish to fry than deal with a bunch of complainers in Weston.

Soon we’ll have an election call. Minister Murray will become Candidate Murray, when no doubt his tone will become a lot more conciliatory. Glen Murray will be just fine regardless of the outcome. He doesn’t care that people in Weston are asking for help. There’s always an institute or community college that will employ him now that he’s quite well known. He’ll be able to add cabinet minister to the long list of jobs on his resumé – ka-ching.

No doubt the Premier will be horrified to hear that one of her ministers is ignoring the concerns of residents and their elected representatives. Use this link to direct your concerns to the Premier directly.

Post Script: April 13: Metrolinx has agreed to stick with the original construction schedule. According to MPP Laura Albanese and Councillor Frances Nunziata,

Metrolinx has listened to the community and has agreed to suspend the extended hours it had intended to put into place in the King St area. Work will continue from 7 am – 7 pm on weekdays and on Saturdays, as has been the case thus far.  We have been informed that Metrolinx will be providing information to the community early next week and will survey residents on the options for moving forward.

A follow-up meeting with Metrolinx will be held in the next 2-3 weeks.

Province can do what it likes? Perhaps not.

So, who knew that provincial agencies have some kind of ‘diplomatic immunity’ in the City of Toronto? Who knew that they only obey city bylaws as a courtesy? On that basis, presumably workers can safely ignore parking and other regulations in addition to cheerfully dispensing mud everywhere for Metrolinx.

Phrasing this as politely as possible; Horse Puckey!

Private companies are doing the work and as such they are surely required to obey the by-laws in the jurisdiction where they operate, no matter who employs them. How Ms Nunziata was fobbed off with the old ‘we can do what we like’ nonsense is beyond comprehension. Besides, Metrolinx doesn’t want or need any more negative publicity. Surely some sharp words and righteous indignation from the councillor could have brought them to heel regardless of who can do what and where.